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America: Overdosed On Fluoride

by Lynn Landes, ZeroWasteAmerica.com (215) 493-1070 and Maria Bechis, updated July 1998

The widespread and uncontrolled use of fluoride in our water, food, juices, beverages, and dental products is causing widespread overexposure to fluoride in the U.S.

For three consecutive years, The Journal of the American Dental Association (see JADA’s Dec. 1995, July1996, July 1997) has published studies reporting on pervasive overexposure to fluoride due to "the widespread use of fluoridated water, fluoride dentifrice, dietary fluoride supplements and other forms of fluoride...{There is} an increased prevalence of dental fluorosis, ranging from about 15% to 65% in fluoridated areas and 5% to 40% in non-fluoridated areas in North America."

In February of 1997, The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) warned parents to limit their children’s intake of juices due to excessive fluoride content.

In April of 1994, the ADA's Council on Scientific Affairs approved a new Fluoride Supplementation Dosage Schedule with the following cautions, "All sources of fluoride must be evaluated with a thorough fluoride history ...Patient exposure to multiple sources can make proper prescribing complex...Caries reduction benefits must be balanced with risk for mild and very mild fluorosis." The multiple sources for fluoride ingestion makes any assessment of patient exposure to fluoride, highly speculative.

Today, over 50% of the United States population drink fluoridated water. Most developed countries have banned fluoride in water. Less than 2% of Western Europe drink fluoridated water. In general, Americans are not warned of the risks of fluoride. Food and beverage labels do not include fluoride concentrations.

Fluoride is the only chemical added to U.S. municipal water that is used to mass medicate, rather than to render water safe to drink. It is not an essential nutrient. It has never received "FDA Approval" (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). It is listed as an "unapproved new drug" by the FDA, and as a "contaminant" by the EPA. Although fluoride can occur naturally in some water supplies, the type of fluoride added to water is a hazardous waste of the aluminum, uranium, and phosphate fertilizer industries.

Fluoride accumulates throughout the body, over an individual’s lifetime. It effects all age groups with both long and short-term harmful health consequences. Fluorosis is symptomatic of an over-exposure to fluoride. Its visible characteristics are the discoloration, white flecks, or pitting of the teeth. Fluorosis can lead to decay in teeth and bone, and has been linked to Alzheimer's, kidney damage, cancer, genetic damage, neurological impairment, and bone pathology.

In 1993, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) stated in its Toxicological Profile on Fluoride," Existing data indicate that subsets of the population maybe unusually susceptible to the toxic effects of fluoride and its compounds. These populations include the elderly, people with deficiencies of calcium, magnesium, and/or vitamin C, and people with cardiovascular and kidney problems... Postmenopausal women and elderly men in fluoridated communities may also be at increased risk of fractures."

Is there a margin of safety for exposure to fluoride? In the 1940’s, when fluoridation of municipal water began, the "optimal" level of exposure to fluoride for dental benefit was determined to be 1 milligram/day. Even at the 1 mg/day exposure level, 10% of the population were expected to contract dental fluorosis. It was estimated that individuals drank 1 liter of water per day. At that time, other sources of fluoride were scarce.

In 1986, the EPA set new "maximum contaminant levels (MCLs)" for fluoride. Above 2 mg/liter" children are likely to develop objectionable dental fluorosis" and parents must be officially notified. Above 4mg/liter, individuals are at risk of developing "crippling skeletal fluorosis." It is against federal law to fluoridate water above 4 mg/liter.

(U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Review of Fluoride Benefits and Risks, 1991). Below is a summary and analysis of fluoride exposure levels from food, beverages, toothpaste, and mouthwash. This data indicates that dentists should no long prescribe supplements.

Fluoride Concentration in Drinking Water                          Fluoride Intake                     % Over 1 mg "Optimal" Dosage

Unfluoridated Communities   < 0.3 mg/L                                 0.88- 2.20 mg/day                                              as much as 120 %
"Optimally" Fluoridated       0.7-1.2 mg/L                                 1.58- 6.60 mg/day                                              as much as 560 %
Fluoridatedcommunities         > 2.0 mg/L                                 2.10- 7.05 mg/day                                               possible >605 %
(Table does not include: Fluoride supplements, pharmaceuticals, emissions, and workplace exposures to fluoride)

ZWA RECOMMENDATION: The FDA should be required to put fluoride through the rigorous" controlled studies" necessary for "Disapproval." If fluoride gains FDA Approval, then it should be treated as a prescribed medication in order to prevent patient overexposure.

Link to America: Overdosed On Fluoride

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